Monday, November 23, 2009

Well of Mercy

Yesterday, I returned from a weekend away at the Well of Mercy. It was an awesome weekend and I came home very refreshed. I have done a little reflecting on why the Well of Mercy and my time there has been so significant over the years. I realized that I have been going there for times of solitude with the Lord for eight years now, on a regular basis. I will never forget the very first time going away and wondering, "What am I going to do for 24 hours of solitude??" What a contrast to when I go now and 24 hours never seems to be enough!

I started going while still single and have continued going through many transitions in my life-getting married, working on staff at a church, having a child, having a second child,etc. It has been the single most important discipline in my spiritual growth over the years.

I was reminded this past weekend that the Lord will speak to us and He desires to speak to us when we take the time to listen...but we have to slow down and create the space to hear Him. I am grateful for a place like the Well of Mercy - a little slice of heaven only an hour away!

"Draw near to God and HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU." James 4:8

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life lessons on the playground

O.K., if you are a parent, you have probably already dealt with the playground issues, but this week has been my real introduction!

A little background... Phillip and I have been working with Taylor on some behavioral stuff and we have a chart we use now which is a picture of a gumball machine with gumballs in it. For every hour Taylor displays certain behavior (which we have lined out for her), she gets a gumball colored in. If she gets 8 in a day , she gets a privilege that night. Of course we are ultimately wanting heart change, but we are taking it step by step. Well, yesterday, I sat and watched Taylor on the playground after school. Sometimes she was playing really well with others , running around, playing chase, sliding down the slides,etc. Then I saw a kid ask her if they could get on the tire swing with her and she said "No, you can't play with me" or something along those lines. I smiled proudly and said "That's my girl!" (Just kidding!!) I walked over there and talked with Taylor about that and helped the little boy up on the swing with her.

After this playground incident, I decided last night at dinner that we would have a talk about kindness and used the playground as our base for giving lots of examples on how to be kind. We role played and wrote on a piece of paper (with Ephesians 4:32 on top) what it would mean to be kind to others. Then last night before bed we prayed that God would help us and teach us how to be kind.

Fast forward to today on the playground after school. We got an opportunity to put this to the test. I watched Taylor again today playing and was pleased with what I saw. I then gave her a five minute warning before leaving, and then a two minute warning. I turned and was talking to some other moms and about a minute later (you know, it only takes a minute for something to happen!!!), Taylor came running over to me, with leaves and dirt all over her and she was crying really hard. She said a little girl had pushed her down. Closely behind her was that girl, crying as well, and she kept saying "I said I was sorry." Well, Taylor was visibly really upset and so I turned to that little girl and I pushed her down! I thought "That will teach her!" Just kidding-I wanted to see if you were still reading and still with me!! Anyway, the little girl's mom came over and since neither one of us actually saw what happened anyway, we just had the girls apologize and then Taylor said she was ready to go home.

We got in the car and Taylor calmed down. I then asked her what really happened and she told me that girl had pushed her down. I asked Taylor what she did next and she said she pushed her a little bit back. Then Taylor said she did not want to be that girl's friend anymore. Great opportunity I talked again about being kind and what it would like to be kind to this little girl. Then I talked about forgiveness and said we needed to pray for her friend and for Taylor, that they would both learn how to be kind and that they would forgive one another.

I really do believe so much of living out what Christ asks us to do happens in the everyday moments of our lives-in the grocery store, in traffic, in our relationships and on the playground.

I hope these moments change me and change my children. Taylor said before getting out of the car.. "Hey mom, maybe my friend needs to try the gumball thing too." (-:

Friday, November 13, 2009


I had a good reminder this week that our identity is in Christ and not in the circumtances of our lives that sometimes seem to define us.

Here is how this happened...yesterday morning at Oasis (our women's Bible study at Lake Forest), there were a couple guests who came. They had been at church the previous Sunday and someone invited them to come to Oasis. When we broke off into our smaller groups, they came to the prayer group, which I am a part of. I had actually met these two women before a couple of months ago when our church hosted a women's homeless shelter for a week. These two women were staying at the shelter that week. Apparently, you can only stay at shelters (which are held in different locations)for 90 day,so when their time was up, they left the shelter and have been living out of a car for two months. They sleep in the car and park in different places each night. These women shared quite a bit during our time together. They both love God and want to serve Him and they want to minister to others who are out on the street. As I listened to them share, I was struck with the fact that although we are having VERY different life experiences right now, we all love the same God. We all want to serve Him. I happen to live in a home that is very comfortable to me and I don't have to depend on God for the next meal at this point in my life. These women do.And I'll bet their prayer life is richer than mine. As I listened to them talk, I was touched by how they seem to have such a deep, intimate relationship with God...seeking Him for every decision they make each day.

Now, on to what this all has to do with finding our identity in Christ. It is so easy for me to refer to those women as "homeless women." When I was sharing with Phillip about the morning, I am pretty sure I said there were two homeless women in our group that morning. It hit me though later, and I almost felt like God stopped me in my tracks, to remind me that the fact that they are homeless is not where their identity lies. It is a circumstance they find themselves in that affects who they are but it is not the defining factor in their lives any more than the defining factor in Zach's life is that he has Down Syndrome. I remember hearing early on in reference to Zach that as his parents, we need to remember he is a baby first and we are to see him and enjoy him that way ... Down Syndrome is just a part of who he is. I would not want anyone to refer to Zach as a Down Syndrome child-he is a child who happens to have Down Syndrome, but most importantly, he is a child of God.

So, although I do realize that being homeless impacts the stories of these women in some big ways, I don't think it is right for me to refer to them as homeless women. They are women like me, who want to honor God with their lives, who want to impact those around them, and who want to grow daily in their relationship with Him. And again, most importantly, they are children of God.

So, I believe God reminded me that our identity is found in belonging to Him, not in our circumstances,and I think I will be more intentional in how I describe people in the future...the same way I hope people would do for me. Thank you God, for showing yourself to me though those precious women this week. The joy on their faces, in spite of their circumstances, has left a mark on my heart.

" How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's all about perspective

Sometimes I just get in a funk...know what I mean? I have found myself in a funk for a few days. Why? Oh, I don't know...I guess I get tired sometimes. The mundane, the routine, trying to keep a house clean, laundry, therapy for Zach, just the stuff of life!!!

So, I decided I needed a perspective check. I have a lot to be thankful for and I sometimes just need to slow down long enough to be reminded of all that God has given me.

I read one of my favorite verses this morning- "From the fullness of his grace, we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16) I have received one blessing after family is healthy and I have been given a gift to have each one of them in my life. I have a wonderful husband. I have a great church and have been given lots of opportunities to serve. My husband has a good job. I have great friends. And on a more superficial note- Birkdale is already decorated for Christmas which excites me and Starbucks has it's Christmas cups out (-:!!!

So, it really is all about perspective, isn't it? I have so MUCH to be thankful for!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

First haircut and standing up!!

This is Zach's "before" picture...

and after...

And here he is standing up holding on to the coffee table (yes, I helped him a little but he stood for about 3 minutes!!) Way to go,little man!